Wow, what a day! After climbing over 8,400 vertical feet to the 12,281’ summit of Mt. Adams, we were rewarded with yet another gorgeous day on the mountain and incredible spring corn conditions.
Jess McMillan diving down the face of Mt. Adams with Mt. St. Helens (next on the list) in the background.
What is most impressive is that not only have Chris, Jess, and friends been finding these conditions every day, but they have managed to keep up their energy and strength with the massive physical undertaking of the “Ring of Fire” Volcano Tour. By Chris’s estimates they have climbed almost 60,000’ on twelve volcanoes in the nine days the tour has been on the road.
Chris Davenport stares at yet another volcano – Mt. Adams – on May 14th, 2012.
The following string of photos tells the story of the amazing experience Team Volcano Tour (and a bunch of friends) had on Mt. Hood yesterday. From their 3:30am wake up call to their post-ski revelry, we hope you enjoy the chronology of images below.
Guest blogger Asit Rathod checking in from the ‘Ring of Fire’ Volcano Tour and Mount Hood; and what a day it was my friends!
Quote of the day award goes to Jess McMillan during brunch in Hood River…”I’m really happy about being drunk right now” (ed. note: let’s face it everyone, she’s earned it). It’s funny but as we grow older and the years keep adding we start realizing how much life changes but good friends still stay the same.
So I got an email a few weeks back from my old friend Chris Davenport that his merry band of crazies were going to ski the Pacific Northwest ‘Ring of Fire.’ I read the itinerary and thought they’d have a better chance of winning the lottery than staying true to the dates. Well son of a gun, I should have bought that lottery ticket.
We all rendezvoused around 10pm in the parking lot of Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood last night and it was as if time had never passed since our days together almost two decades ago. Yes we are that old. Then out of nowhere, I see a smile that made me smile from within as if I had just seen the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause kung fu fighting each other. Mr. Jim Morrison gave me a hug and that signature smile that was exactly as I remembered it 15+ years ago. I knew a whole lot of awesomeness was about to happen but we had to get some zzzzzz’s. So a big hug, HI-5’s, and ‘sleep well’s’ was all that two old friends could give each other.
Aerial photo of Mt. Jefferson showing our ski line, the beautiful Southwest Face. Photo by Jim Morrison
By: Chris Davenport
Written on May 12, 2012
As I sit here in the Spyder Land Yacht driving north towards tomorrow’s objective, Mt. Hood, I can’t help but reflect on the last eight days and the ten peaks we’ve skied. Both Jess and I have mentioned in our blog posts how cool it is each day to look south and see the mountains we have skied, and then to turn north and see our future. We’re tired – really tired – with tens of thousands of vertical feet in our legs and only one rest day … yet somehow the stoke meter stays pinned.
This trip has been a dream on many levels, but perhaps the greatest gifts have been from Mother Nature herself. The weather has been perfect the entire time, and the corn-snow cycle as good as it gets on these big Cascade volcanoes. What we did in our lives to arrive at this place and be blessed with such gifts is beyond me. I’m just grateful to share these experiences with such amazing people.
I think I have heard Jess say “today was my favorite volcano” at least five or six times so far, and it was loud and clear today on Mt. Jefferson. This massive mountain has no easy access this time of year and was the lowest starting point we have had so far (around 3,100’) so we were looking at a huge day.
Volcano Tour Days 6 & 7: Three Sisters and Mt. Washington
(The east side of North Sister under a half-moon.)
By Chris Davenport
Written on May 11, 2012
Yesterday was our biggest day of the trip so far in terms of distance covered, vertical climbed & skied, and pure effort exerted. Luckily for us we had some great local knowledge. We hooked up with local skier and owner of Three Sisters Backcountry huts Jonas Tarlen through our friend David Marchi; Jonas took us on a grand adventure. Jess and I were ready for a big day, but when it was all over we were definitely whooped!
Aside from losing an hour trying to summit North Sister in icy conditions, we moved quickly all day and finished the almost 18 mi. traverse of over 10,000’ vertical in just under 12 hours. One of the coolest and perhaps most surprising aspects of this day was that during a perfect weather window, and in ideal snow conditions, we didn’t see another soul out there in Central Oregon’s biggest mountains.
Three Sisters Vital stats: The Three Sisters Traverse is comprised of three separate summits: North Sister (10,085’), Middle Sister (10,047’), and South Sister (10,358’).
We skied Mt. Washington this morning (our 9th volcano in 6 days) and are headed to the trailhead for tomorrow’s big day on Mt. Jefferson. Our internet connection has been quite slow during this part of the trip, so I’m going to let the photos (below) tell the story on this one. I think you’ll enjoy…
But not without a final shout-out to Shane, Jonas’ partner at ThreeSistersBackcountry who picked us up on the road in his snow-machine, complete with chocolate milk and beer! Thanks Shane!
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more from Washington and Jefferson.
«You’ll find a bunch of awesome photos of our Three Sisters Odyssey after the jump»
Chris Davenport joined National Geographic Weekend just before the #VolcanoTour began to discuss the journey. Press play above to listen to the interview.
The world’s best skiing is not found at the top of a chairlift. Professional skier Chris Davenport knows this better than anyone, so he gets off the groomed runs… and climbs mountains in his ski boots. He has skied Everest’s Lhotse Face, but this spring is taking it easy by targeting volcanos in the Pacific Northwest, including Mt. Rainier, Mt. Washington and Mt. Shasta. Follow his #VolcanoTour on Twitter.
Ping…Ping…Clank…Ping…Clank. This is what I hear every morning around 4:30am on the ‘Ring of Fire’ Volcano Tour. My eyes slowly open; I can smell the coffee brewing and sense the stoked atmosphere inside the Spyder Land Yacht from Team Volcano Tour as they prepare to climb and ski yet another volcano.
This is a volcano tour – an attempt to ski seventeen volcanoes throughout the Pacific Northwest during the month of May. But this is much more then a ski trip – it truly is a journey (and a mostly unscripted journey at that). Beyond the team’s stated priorities of meeting local skiers and mountaineers, partaking in local activities, and, well, climbing and skiing a ton of vertical feet, it’s an open book.
For those of you who have been following our blog, you know about the team’s experiences on the mountain. As the ‘Captain’ of the Land Yacht, I have a unique perspective of this journey. As ‘Captain’ – and we’re going to use a more expansive definition than a mere driver here – I spend my days holding down the fort as the cleaning crew, the cook, the jester, the DJ, the maintenance tech, and as the navigator. I’m a one-man army up in here.
My day starts when the team rises (no soundproof walls in the Land Yacht). After a quick bite to eat, I watch them exit the rig and then disappear into the woods or up a trail. Then what? I turn into the cleaning machine. For me, a clean home is a happy home! I tie up my apron, put on my rubber gloves, and get to work. I vacuum, do the dishes, set out our “outdoor patio” (artificial grass and lawn chairs – yep, as hilarious as it sounds), and then prep food items for brunch for when the team returns.
We wanted to extend our congrats to Spyder Athlete Jess McMillan, who just signed on with Garmont. As many of you know, Jess has been an absolute rock star on the Volcano Tour, and her lightweight Garmont ski boots are no doubt helping her conquer all of that vert in the Pac NW.
I’m going to keep this post a bit short, mainly because Mt. Bachelor is perhaps the least interesting of all the volcanoes we hope to ski on this journey. So how did we come to ski two volcanoes in one day? Well, the story goes like this… After an awesome morning on Mt. Thielson we drove two hours north to Bend and pulled into the totally sweet Crown Villa RV Resort. This place is so plush and relaxing!
We busted out the grill and fixed up some delicious fish tacos that had been marinating in the fridge for 24 hours in a tequila lime seasoning from Whole Foods Market. During lunch, as our bellies filled up, Daron, Jess and I were all feeling pretty recovered. It was only 2 pm and I said, “Why don’t we get ahead of the curve here and go skin up Bachelor this evening for a sunset ski?” Without hesitation, Daron and Jess were in! We had a plan. That’s the thing I love about this group… everyone is motivated and full of positive energy. So we digested for an hour and then drove up to the West base area at Bachelor for an easy 3400’ skin.
The ski area is closed Monday through Wednesday right now so we had the entire area to ourselves and skinned up a beautiful groomed track.
I wish my words could clearly convey just how much fun we are having on this road trip. From the amazing Spyder Land Yacht and all of its comforts, to the amazing people and their positive energy we have met along the way, to the truly fantastic skiing on our first four volcanoes, it’s been an epic trip by any measure.
Jess, Daron and I continued to ramp up the fun factor today on Mt. Thielson, a dissected shield volcano that lies just north of Crater Lake National Park.
Thielson has many things going for it, but the easy approach, steep upper face, and fun summit rock climb make it a standout. Every peak we have skied on this journey has been special in its own way, but on Thielson it was all about the perfect velvet corn snow. I mean truly perfect! As we skinned the steep upper Southwest Face in the cool morning shade, our thoughts were all about timing, as they tend to be during the spring ski-mountaineering season.
The face was frozen hard, making for some sporty skinning, and the shadow crept up behind us as we ascended. We hoped and prayed that after some time on top Mother Nature would work her magic and the corn would be ripe!
Add it to your list – Mt. McLoughlin is a must-ski! It’s my favorite volcano we have skied so far on the Volcano Tour. I began with low expectations for multiple reasons: the lack of beta about the peak, the road closure, and the exhaustion I felt from skiing Mount Shasta the day before were definitely on the list. But I had – we had – an amazing day. The adventure, the perfect snow, the competition-worthy terrain … it all came together for us on Day 3 of the Volcano Tour.
“Mount McLoughlin is the highest peak in southern Oregon, a beautiful near-symmetrical volcanic cone. Despite being the highest point in a 200-mile stretch of the Cascade Range between the Three Sisters and Mount Shasta, McLoughlin is relatively unknown and often overlooked. The Northeast Bowls of Mount McLoughlin are easily the finest ski descent in Southern Oregon, with a sustained 45-degree pitch in the upper sections and nice open cruising below.” www.skimountaineer.com
McLoughlin was the first volcano to test the team logistically. Doubt was creeping in through the windows of the Land Yacht. Dav, feeling deflated due to the lack of beta said, “We need to be prepared for the possibility that we don’t ski all of the volcanoes. I thought weather would be are biggest hurdle, but logistically McLoughlin might not work out. Maybe we should just head to Theilson?” Luckily, Daron had spent the previous three hours on his GPS and felt confident that he could navigate the forest. The only other deterrent was that the road to the trail head might still be covered in snow. There was only one way to find out!
On May 5th, after Day 1 of the Volcano Tour on Mt. Lassen, we traveled north on Interstate 5 in the Spyder ‘Land Yacht’ with Captain Grant at the wheel, staring at the dramatic, legendary, and towering Mt. Shasta, gleaming in the distance.
(Mt. Shasta is the largest volcano in California and last erupted in 1786.)
We rolled into the town of Mt. Shasta and walked into The Fifth Season Outdoor Store for some local beta on the current conditions from Vinnie and Leif. The weather was great and in their words, conditions were “all time.”
We continued on to the Dunsmuir airport to pick up our buddy Jim Morrison who flew up from Truckee, CA in his plane, a TBM 700, to join us for the Shasta mission. It was very cool to have Jim along that day; he’s a strong climber (and a better skier) and was able to give Dav some company on the way up (as you can imagine, keeping up with Dav can be a little challenging).
(Jim’s view of Shasta during his flight in to meet us.)
Just a quick update on weather for the next 7-10 days…
A weak storm will blow through the northwest Wednesday through midday Thursday. The main effect will be temperatures about 10 degrees cooler and winds about 10mph strong, though you should get through this with no precipitation (the main storm energy is further north of Oregon into BC). Winds shouldn’t be too bad, but of course this can be amplified by the ridgelines. I don’t see much of an impact on the tour, though conditions could be a bit firmer on Wednesday and Thursday. The air should warm a bit and the winds die down by later on Thursday. The forecast pages I linked to in the spreadsheet should be all that you need for the details.
I do see some more weather coming around the 16th-ish, but that’s a ways away, so no use in talking details. Between now and then, the weather looks great except for the cooler air and wind on this Wed & Thu. And even the storm on the 16th could stay far enough north to give you minimal impacts while on Rainier, or at least impacts that you could mitigate by waiting things out by 6-12 hours here or there.
Keep on keepin’ on!
Thanks for the update Joel! So far, Mother Nature has smiled on Team Volcano!
Our first ski experience of the ‘Ring of Fire’ Volcano Tour couldn’t have gone better. Daron, Jess and I have been so excited to get this trip underway, and now that we have our first peak under our belts, we are thrilled.
After a three-hour drive from Reno with “Captain” Grant Burrow behind the wheel, we pulled into Lassen National Park and the “Devastated Area” parking lot at 5 pm yesterday evening. We spent the good part of two hours pulling all our gear and food out of the RV to sort and organize everything. With two weeks of food from Whole Foods Market, Bare Naked Granola, and Clif Bar on-board for 5-6 people/day, we had a lot to go through.
Although it probably wasn’t necessary to wake up so early for what would be a relatively short climb and ski, we were so anxious that we had the coffee on and were gearing up at 6:15 am this morning. The sunrise illuminated the grand northeast Face of Lassen, the unstable weather having pushed out the day before.
We were skinning through the forest at 7 am and by 8 am were above the treeline and climbing steadily. If any of you have been following Jess’ blog or her tweets (@jessmcmillan), you know that she has been training like crazy at home in Jackson, WY, and has climbed almost 75,000 vertical feet in the last three weeks. I was feeling good as well, having just come back from a wonderful trip to the Alaska Range, and Daron, well, he’s just about as strong as they come.
Volcano Tour Weather Forecast – Courtesy of OpenSnow.com
With the ‘Ring of Fire’ Volcano Tour upon us, we feel lucky to have the one and only Joel Gratz in our corner. Joel is well-known in the ski world for his ski-focused weather expertise. He’s the founder of OpenSnow.com, and he’s put together quite the forecast for the tour. His meteorological two-cents are below:
Although it’s snowing a bit now in northern California and Oregon and Washington, The Luck of the Davenport will once again compel the weather gods to put up clear skies for a big expedition!
Leftover snow showers will fall Thursday night and Friday over northern California, but when it’s time for your first peak on Saturday, the weather will be perfect. In fact, the weather looks generally dry from Saturday through at least the next week. I don’t want to speculate about details beyond a week, but even the longer-range forecasts look promising.
I attached a spreadsheet with links to weather forecasts for each Volcano for the entire trip. You can also access the spreadsheet via this link to a Google Document.
For each peak I provided a link to the point forecast for the summit (thanks to the National Weather Service). There are actually two links — one with the typical text forecast, and another one with a graphical view of more detailed data. Unless (until) the weather starts to not cooperate, these links will be all that you’ll need to determine temperatures and winds and the low/no threat of precipitation. On Saturday, it looks like temperatures at the summit will climb above freezing by 9am, with lower elevations obviously warming more quickly. Timing and finding the corn looks like the main challenge this week.
If you want forecasts for other areas surrounding the peaks, click on the link for the text forecast, locate the google map in the middle-right of the page, and click on another point on the map.
Feel free to get in touch with me if you have weather questions, and I’ll check in a bit later to make sure the longer range forecast bows to Dav’s incredible weather luck.
Be safe & have fun!
Thanks Joel! We’ll likely be calling on you more as the tour progresses. Weather will play a huge role in the tour, no doubt.